Some people shout. Some people whisper. Some people use metaphors to make a point, others appeal to emotion, and others pile on fact after fact to lead you to a conclusion. There's nothing wrong with any of these methods, and all of them can be effective. In fact, if you understand your audience, you can tailor your communications to use the method that will work best with those particular people.
Understand Who You Are Speaking To
If you are speaking one on one with a person you know well, you can choose the style that they respond to best; it's not true that everyone who works in technology thinks like Mr. Spock or Mr. Data. When you speak with a group, you can't match each individual's preferred communication style, and may need to make some assumptions. It's fairly safe to assume that a technical audience wants to hear facts and a logical argument. Managers may also prefer this. Other audiences may need a more emotionally based discussion.
Just the Facts, Please
When speaking with someone who prefers to see the data behind an argument, give them the facts in a logical order. Help them reach the conclusion you want by showing how the facts link together to support their position. Don't bring in extraneous points; keep the discussion focused. Respond to questions straightforwardly. Allow these logical thinkers time to review the facts and reach a conclusion.
When speaking with someone who's driven more by emotions than simply data, it isn't enough to simply present facts and show how they lead to a specific conclusion. While you can't ignore the facts, you need use stories and present them in a context that shows their impact. Expect and encourage an open, freewheeling exchange of ideas.
Build a Great Team that Communicates Well
Communicating with your team is easier when the team is made up of highly skilled professionals who are good at their job. The Armada Group has a deep database of candidates to match to your open opportunities. With our understanding of our candidates and the requirements of your open positions, you can quickly add top talent to your team. Contact us to get started.
Want to reduce turnover on your technology team? You should; it can take months to replace an employee who resigns, and it can cost thousands of dollars to hire their replacement. Those are only the direct costs. There are also other costs that are harder to measure, like the impact on morale when the remaining employees need to take on additional work, and the impact on the business if a project is delayed due to a key employee's departure.
So managers should do their best to keep their developers happy with their work environment to keep them on the job. A recent survey identified the top factors that developers find challenging at work – and not in a good way. Make an effort to eliminate these six factors to retain the employees you need for your projects to succeed:
Setting challenging goals is one thing. Setting impossible goals is another. When management expects more from its developers than they can deliver, whether it's an unreasonable schedule or asking more of a technology than it's capable of, the developers know there's no way they can succeed.
It's impossible to develop a quality application if you don't understand the business requirements or how the existing code works. Documentation that leaves many unanswered questions, or is missing entirely, frustrates developers. It means they can't start developing the solution without spending a ton of time just figuring out what they're working on.
Related to poor documentation, unspecific requirements make it impossible to tell what needs to be done to make the end users happy. Developers often read between the lines and guess, only to find out at the testing phase that they guessed wrong and need to redo their work.
Inefficient development processes.
If the team doesn't have efficient tools and procedures in place, developers spend a lot of time on administrative and manual tasks to track, manage, and build packages. That's time the developers would rather spend developing.
Fragile code base.
It's tough to create a quality project on a shaky foundation. No matter what the vision of a new release is, if the existing code is poorly structured, difficult to reuse, and easy to break, developers have to spend a lot of time reworking existing code before they get to the fun part of writing new features.
A lot of mental energy gets invested in designing and coding an application, so developers get attached to the features they're working on. When requirements change often, developers have to put that aside and start something new. That can be tough for them to accept.
Of course, even if you avoid all these issues, you'll still have employees occasionally resigning – life happens, after all. When you need to find top talent, The Armada Group takes time to understand your needs and match your opening to the ideal candidates. Contact us to learn how we can help you find employees who'll be happily challenged working for you.
Millennials came of age during challenging economic times. Many had trouble finding good jobs after school, settling for jobs they were overqualified for or working at internship after internship, hoping to get an "in" with a good company and a good job.
Now, the work habits that were forced on millennials are impacting employers. Millennials don't have the same experiences or expectations of the workplace that other generations had, and employers who want to hire millennials, perhaps to replace retirees of older generations, need to adapt the way they work to appeal to the younger generation.
Flexible Work Arrangements
Millennials don't expect to be tied to their workplace for a 40-hour work week. They've grown up with computer technology that keeps them connected around the clock, wherever they are; they don't see why work should have to me going to a specific place at a specific time. The "gig economy" lets them work on projects in short bursts of time when they have availability, giving them the freedom to pursue personal interests and passion projects. While those positions were initially focused on low-level, menial tasks such as running errands and standing in line, newer gig firm let even grads with advanced degrees like MBAs work on a short-term basis.
In order to compete for workers who prefer that kind of arrangement, firms need to offer flexible work arrangements that extend beyond an occasional "work-from-home" day. This might mean hiring millennials on a part-time basis; to succeed, the part-time schedule has to be desired by the employee rather than an attempt to save on the cost of benefits.
Companies can also consider having their millennials work as internal consultants. Rather than being assigned to a specific department or project, they could work for any department that has need of their skill on a specific project. This has the advantage of providing the employee a broad perspective on the company's operations. By also providing the millennial employee a large number of internal contacts, this helps the employee develop connections needed that help professional growth.
Opportunities for Growth
The gig economy lets workers accept the jobs that interest them so they can develop their interests. Within a company, implementing a formal mentorship program will also appeal to millennials who are focused on career development. Companies also need to present millennials with a clear career path, perhaps through implementing leadership programs. Companies also need to refine their mission statement to reflect the millennial values of work interests go beyond financial success.
The Armada Group's talent database includes the best potential employees of every generation. Contact us to learn how to find the best candidates and how to make your job appeal to them.
Many people are drawn to technical careers by a love of technology; they enjoy the creativity those careers require and the challenges they provide. Others are drawn to technical careers by more practical concerns: tech careers are among the best-paying opportunities out there. But even if your developers love their jobs because they love technology, they still want to be fairly compensated. That compensation isn't limited to their paycheck; benefits and perks matter, too. Work with your human resources and budgeting teams to make sure your company provides developers these crucial perks:
Start with a basic benefits package – 401K, stock options, paid time off including vacation, sick days, and personal days. Don't be tempted to leave insurance to the government-run exchanges; employer plans can offer better options and better networks. Offer, and subsidize, the cost of dental and vision insurance as well as medical insurance.
Sure, developers can work on any old computer, but they'll get a lot more done and be a lot happier with top-of-the-line equipment. The larger the monitor, the better, and the more monitors, the better, too. Make sure you have enough printers, so developers don't have to walk all the way around the building to pick up a printout. The paperless office isn't a reality for developers or anyone.
Quiet space where they can think.
Coding problems aren't solved on the computer; they're solved in the developer's mind, first. The open workspace with low cubicle walls is filled with distractions that make concentration difficult, which frustrates developers who want to get their jobs done. Even if you can't give everyone an office with real walls and a door, provide a quiet space where they can go to simply think through a tough challenge.
Freedom to use the best technology to solve the problem.
You need a stable technology platform, and mixing multiple technologies can complicate support, but don't force your team to use a tool that isn't appropriate for the task at hand just because you have the support capability. Developers want to work with new technology that makes it easier and more fun to solve the hard problems.
Training in new technology.
To use the best and newest technology, your team needs to understand it. Support your developers in learning those skills; don't force them to study on their own time but encourage them to attend off-site seminars where they can concentrate on learning without being distracted by day-to-day business issues. The commitment to their development will boost morale as well as their technical capabilities.
These perks help developers get their jobs done and demonstrate the value your company places on their skills, which boosts morale and their loyalty to your business. Contact The Armada Group to learn how we can help your business find employees who love technology and want to apply their skills to solving your problems.
Technology changes constantly. If you don't keep your team trained in the latest methods, you're going to have to hire constantly in order to keep up. It's much more cost-effective to help your current staff learn new skills than to build a new team, but ad-hoc training won't cut it. Make training part of your team's annual development plan. While you should encourage developers to take courses that interest them, make sure their training also meets business needs. Make sure to address these three points to create a training program that excites your team and impresses your CEO:
1.Train for the skills your team will need tomorrow, not the skills they need today.
When you hire someone, they should have the skills they need to do the job they were hired for. The purpose of training should be to develop skills they'll need for their next project. That means you need to consider your organization's IT strategy and identify the technology changes the team will need to tackle over the next few years. Focus your team's learning to align with the corporate technology strategy and you'll be ready when you need to start implementing that strategy.
2.Train your team to understand the business, not just the technology.
The purpose of the IT team is to support the business, whether you write software that's sold or software that runs in the back office. The best software is written by developers who understand their end users and the problems the software needs to solve. Help your developers gain that understanding through training that focuses on the business domain.
3.Train your team to work as a team.
Teams are composes of individuals, and they need to work effectively as a team. Improve their interpersonal and communication skills with courses that focus on effective speech, presentations, leadership, and conflict resolution. These skills will improve your developers' abilities to interact with others on their team, with your clients, and in the rest of their lives.
Training can make your team better, but the best teams start with the best-quality employees. The Armada Group's talent search services help employers build a foundation of top-notch technical employees who are eager to learn and develop their skills. Contact us to learn more about our services.
If the members of your development team came off an assembly line, with identical skills and personalities, managing them would be so much simpler! The team would automatically be compatible, and the same rewards would motivate everyone to do their best. But team members don't come off an assembly line, they each have differing skills and personalities, and one of the biggest challenges for managers is figuring out the right way of interacting with each unique team member to achieve a successful result.
The Tech Geek
Some team members are all about the technology. They'll argue the reasons you must adopt the dot-19 version of a library instead of continuing with the dot-16 version you're currently using. They'll swear the latest technology that's barely made it out of the lab is the only thing that will let the business beat out its competitors.
Get the most out of these geeky team members by giving them the chance to show off their technical chops and prove the benefits of those new technologies through small pilot projects. These developers are also the folks you should ask to build the most technically complex, critical components of your application. Make sure they know you appreciate the value of new technology and of their skills, within the context and confines of the project needs and schedules.
The Independent Thinker
Even though agile development teams define their own processes, not every team member buys in completely. When you have a developer who goes their own way, it becomes much more challenging to track project activities and ensure a high level of quality.
To bring these independent thinkers into line, make sure their voices get heard in the meetings where team processes are discussed. If they deviate later, remind them that they participated in the definition of the process, and that it's important they adhere to the procedures they agreed to at the time.
The Deadline Misser
Getting code working right is tough, and some developers consistently struggle to meet their deadlines. In some cases, this is because they just don't have the skills for the job, and you may have to take corrective action. In other cases, it's just that – like most developers – they're overly optimistic when giving estimates of how long work will be. If there's a pattern of missed deadlines, have a talk with the developer to see whether they need training in programming or in estimating, and be sure to add buffer into their estimates, so future projects more closely match to reality.
Development teams need all kinds of skills and personalities. If there's a gap on your team, The Armada Group's boutique staffing services can help you find the right new hire to make your project succeed. Contact us to learn more about our staffing services.
Is handing out their last paycheck the last time you talk to your former employees? If it is, your company may be missing out on one of your best sources of potential new hires.
Instead, consider creating an alumni community that can help former employees boomerang back into working for you.
More than half of workers say they'd be willing to return to a previous employer. Of course, the opportunity has to be right. Retired workers who find they're bored – or short of cash – in retirement might be glad for the chance to step right back into their previous role, while younger returnees might only come back to a new position which offers an additional challenge.
In either case, the onboarding process is significantly shorter when you re-hire a former employee. There's less need for background checks, and the returnees are already familiar with many company policies and procedures. Depending on how long they were gone, they may be deeply familiar with the corporate culture and already have the working relationships needed to help get the job done.
Develop a Strategy
But without a formal strategy for keeping in touch, companies lose the opportunity to re-recruit former staffers. It doesn't have to be expensive. Email newsletters, LinkedIn, and Facebook groups are all low-cost means of contacting employees once they're off the company distribution lists. The groups and communications can be organized around departments, skills, or locations, allowing you to tailor your messages.
Don't tailor those messages too narrowly, though. Those former employees have personal connections to many other people, which means they can be a great source of referrals, even when they aren't interested in returning themselves. Send frequent enough communications to keep your company on their minds, and make sure the message – and their thoughts – are positive.
You can even invite former employees to company events, to make them feel like they're part of the family. Who knows, they may recommend your company to their children, extending the connection for another generation.
Extend Your Network
If your network of former employees hasn't helped you fill your open positions, contact us to expand your network with ours. The Armada Group has offered boutique staffing services for 20 years. We work to understand your open positions and company culture to help find the best new employees.
IT departments need to cope with change more than any other department within the company. Not only do technological changes impact them directly, IT departments need to cope with the same non-technical issues that other departments deal with. Here's a look at how these changes are impacting IT departments.
IT departments are working hard to come up with strategies and sound implementations around cloud and virtualization technologies. The rise of everything-as-a-service fundamentally changes the responsibilities of an IT department from one of execution to one of oversight. Yet IT departments retain responsibility for the effectiveness of the implemented solution, both in terms of its delivering what the business needs and with respect to satisfying legal and compliance requirements.
Additionally, "as-a-service" means the IT department also needs to see itself as a service provider, and make customer satisfaction a higher priority in its work metrics. User satisfaction measures are being added to traditional metrics like the time to close tickets in order to evaluate the true productivity of the team.
The changes in technology mean IT departments need to hire different skill sets than previously. Along with everyone else, they're hiring a different generation of workers – the millennials. This generation is online all the time; plugged-in and connected, they want to work collaboratively. This means more than providing enterprise social platforms; it also means involving the IT team at earlier stages of discussions with the business so they can understand the ultimate goal of a project and focus their efforts productively.
The IT department is also required to work with the business closely to support the digital transformation efforts being pursued by many companies. Technology will be a key factor in the success of businesses going forward, and the business needs input from the IT team to envision the new, digital ways of conducting business and interacting with customers. As a result of this transformation, IT departments can begin to drive revenue, rather than being viewed merely as an expense. Technology teams with the skills to understand business will point the way towards future company success.
Managers are busy. It's tempting to communicate with your team via email blasts and team meetings, where you can talk to everyone at once. Fitting one-on-one meetings into your schedule is important, though, because email doesn't convey tone and people may say things in private they wouldn't say in a group. So once you've managed to squeeze a one-on-one meeting onto your calendar, be sure you make the most of the opportunity.
The best one-to-one meetings take place in person, in a quiet location where you won't be distracted. If you can't meet in person, like with remote staff, that doesn't mean you're limited to email; make use of the other communication methods the Internet supports, like Skype. As with in-person meetings, make sure you're in a quiet place. Before making any Internet calls, make sure you have all the software you need installed. Test it out before the first time. If you can't complete an Internet call because of technical glitches, it's frustrating for the other person; they may feel their time was wasted and you don't value their time.
Put aside your cellphone and stop checking emails for the duration of the meeting. Have a plan for the discussion; this time is too valuable for a rambling conversation. Because these meetings should be about what the employee needs, you may want to have your employee prepare an agenda of the points they'd like to discuss.
At the same time, don't be all business. One-on-ones give you a chance to connect on a personal level with the people on your team. Without stooping to gossip, make sure you're aware of their personal situation so you can interact with them as a person, not just as an employee.
Listen closely to what the employee tells you. Keep it confidential when appropriate, but also be sure to take action where needed. It's worse to have a meeting and ignore acting on an employee's requests than not to have the meeting at all.
These meetings should be regular, but you can also schedule a follow-up meeting to touch base on progress. And even though one-on-one conversations should be routine, don't let them become routine. Make them interesting and valuable for your employees, so they want to keep talking with, and working for, you.
One of the biggest headaches for any manager is replacing an employee who resigns. Not only does losing an employee mean you need to spend time and money recruiting their replacement, it also makes it difficult to get your department's work done. Other employees need to pick up the departing employee's work; they may resent it and start thinking about resigning themselves. The best way to solve this headache is to prevent it from developing in the first place, by reducing your turnover. Here are some things to look at to help you keep your top talent.
Offer financial rewards.
Periodically review your compensation bands and make sure you're paying market-level salaries. Beyond the paycheck, make sure your company offers other competitive financial benefits, including a well-structured 401(k) plan.
Understand your employees' perspective.
Don't wait until an end-of-year annual review process to find out how your employees feel about their jobs. Talk with them informally throughout the year. You can also conduct surveys to collect anonymous feedback that may include opinions no one would tell you to your face.
Tailor work assignments to employees' preferences.
It's probably not possible to ensure that your employees will enjoy all of their work responsibilities every day, but you can make sure they're assigned to projects and roles that are in line with their interests and abilities. Make sure employee reviews include discussions of what they'd like to work on. When new projects come up, don't simply assign people based on what they're currently doing; assign them based on what they would like to do.
Offer emotional rewards.
Saying "thank you" costs nothing but goes a long way in making employees feel like their work has meaning and is valued. Praising someone's work in public is especially valuable. Make employees feel like they're part of a team, and that the team matters, by having occasional low-cost team celebrations. These acts boost morale and make employees less likely to give notice.
Don't wait until they give notice.
In most cases, if you're an involved manager, you should have a sense that someone on your team isn't happy. There will be even more signs when they progress to actively interviewing, such as moving away if you pass by when they're on the phone or showing up to work late wearing nicer clothes than usual. You probably don't want to flat-out ask them if they're looking for another job, but you can and should make the effort to ask how things are going. If you find something you can change for them before they give notice, you may never have to deal with their resignation at all.